Deleted Scene / Old Souls

paper-1484048


Authors are often forced to cut entire scenes. These cuts are usually made in the name of improving the pace of the story as a whole, or to simplify an overly complicated plot. I’ve written many, many, (many) scenes for Old Souls that no one else will *ahem* EVER see, and that’s okay. Writing them helped me figure out what didn’t work so I could focus on what would.

That said, I’m hoping that practice helps.

Because Old Souls is a fantasy novel populated by immortal characters, figuring out where to begin the story was exceptionally difficult. And I can prove it. I have a thumb drive filled with twenty-seven first chapters . . . and thirteen prologues. When I finally decided on where to begin the book, I cut eight chapters, 30,000 painstakingly edited words, and hundreds of hours of work from the manuscript. Gone was the scene where attackers descended upon an ancient city, separating Lucien from the black-haired woman. The scene where Lucien lost his only childhood friend. The scene where Lucien’s dying mother revealed the truth about his father. And, the scene where Lucien flushes his anti-psychotics to discover who–or what–he really is.

The book now opens in the middle of a breakdown. A fire in a crowded bar, started by none other that Lucien Navarro himself.

Which I love, but still. Sigh. I loved some of those scenes.

On the other hand . . .

*Steeples fingers*

Maybe some of those scenes don’t need to hide forever.


traffic-286462.jpgI passed the cabs on my way out of the hospital, opting to walk home along the quiet streets. The cloudless sky revealed a glimmer of stars overhead. Too bright for the occasion. The farther I walked, the guiltier I felt. I didn’t want to leave my mother’s body in the hospital. I wanted stand by her bed, speaking for her while she couldn’t. I owed her that, at least.

The night was cold. My toes and fingers ached. Finally inside my apartment building, I lumbered up the narrow stairs to my door. Before the place had been sectioned off it was a house, constructed for one of the oversized families living in Charlottetown a hundred years before. The ceilings were low. As large as I was, I sometimes felt like a giant entering a dollhouse.

Earwigs scattered in the kitchen as opened the door. Empty bottles, pill containers and fast food wrappers lay discarded on the counter. Dirty dishes overflowed from the sink. I kicked my shoes off and made my way to the bathroom. Pulling the string for the light, I came face to face with my reflection in the mirror, seeing myself as Vi would have in the last moments of her life. I winced. The hollow circles under my eyes appeared darker than usual, potholing into the sickly puffiness of my heavily stubbled cheeks and neck.

The last conversation I’d ever have with my mother imprinted itself in my mind, cycling over and over until it was all I could hear, taste, and smell.

“Your father was paranoid. He thought someone was after him. The fear of being found consumed him.”
“Found by who?”
She drew a long, steadying breath. “The Rocks, I think.”
“The Rocks?” I asked, attention rapt. “Are you sure?”
She didn’t answer, beginning to nod off.
I didn’t breathe. I couldn’t. I touched her arm. “Could it have been the Stones?” I swallowed. “The Stones of David?”
“Yes. Yes. That was it,” she answered finally, eyes closed. “The Stones of David.”

How had Iris known about the Stones of David if my father had been crazy? While I’d ignored her warning before, I couldn’t do it any longer. It was clear the woman knew something I didn’t.

“That medication is hindering your ability to discern fiction from reality.”

Retrieving the clozapine from behind my mirror, I sat in the living room. I lingered a long time, staring at the refuse on the coffee table and scattered along the floor–empty chip bags, glass bottles, and pizza boxes, the uneaten pieces stale. I spun the pill bottle over and over in my hand, watching as the sun began to rise outside my second story window. city-573775.jpgThe world beyond my vantage point stood startlingly still. The streets were empty, except for the cars and trucks tucked neatly along the sides of the road. Even the herculean elms that loomed high above the cracked sidewalks and the manicured gardens the residents of Upper Prince Street prided themselves on were completely unruffled by wind. It felt as if the world beyond my little window was holding its breath. Waiting on me.

When people began venturing out of their homes and into the street, and the sun broke free from the horizon, I realized I’d been up all night, deliberating. I looked at the pill bottle in my hand.

Since I began taking the medication eighteen years before I’d learned to live with my illness. I’d maintained the control my father couldn’t, for my mother’s sake. But, what if I wasn’t sick? It was a dangerous question, one I buried years before. But suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to believe Iris; to believe I wasn’t alone, now that Vi was gone.

I walked to the kitchen. Rummaging through a drawer beside the overflowing sink, I fished out the rest of my pills to examine the bottles. Some of them were still quite full. I carried them to the bathroom, bowing bowed my head as I passed under the low doorframe.

Having dropped the bottles into the sink in a plasticky clatter, I retrieved one. I unscrewed the childproof lid while pinching the sides, an endeavor that was as habitually familiar to me as bushing my teeth. Twice daily, every day. Eighteen years. I closed my eyes, pouring the contents of the bottle into the toilet bowl. I took a deep breath and forced myself to look at the capsules floating on the water.

Emptying the rest of the bottles was easy after that.

My senses heightened. Blood rushed through my veins, charged with adrenaline. I felt as though I was alive, truly alive, perhaps for the first time in my life. When I pushed the yellowed knob, the sound of the flush sounded like a chorus to my ears, a prayer, a victory cry. The pills swirled round and around again before they were suctioned into the connecting pipes and down, down, down into the sewer. Then the water ran, the toilet stilled, and it was finished.

Looking into the mirror again, I noticed a touch of grey in my beard.

I’d wasted so much time.


Reincarnation, and the Plausibility of Old Souls


One of the driving forces behind my upcoming book, Old Souls, is the idea of reincarnation. When I explain the premise of the story to people they usually respond one way. “Do you believe in reincarnation?”

reincarnation-soul-mateIt’s an interesting topic. Everyone seems to have an anecdote to share, whether it’s about how a psychic once told them they were an old soul, or about a boy in Louisiana who convinced his parents he used to be a fighter pilot, and was shot down over the Pacific. These stories often result in interesting conversations about life and death, and what happens to our souls when we die.

I don’t believe I’m going to hell (and never really expected they’d let me into heaven). Although I tried the organized religion “hat” on for a while, it only made my head itch. That’s not to say, of course,  I’d ever try to take anyone’s beliefs from them. My dad is a Christian. His faith helped mold him into the kindhearted, compassionate person he is today. It’s a hat that looks good on him.

quotescover-JPG-87But, because I don’t believe in a neat and tidy, biblicized set of rules and convictions, I feel like I’ve entertained a fairly wide variety of theories about life and nature, and where our souls come from.

What I have come up with is this: I believe in life. In positive energy.  I don’t think there’s a perfect being who watches us all the time, judging us while we steal the last cookie from Grandma’s cookie jar, or a twisted demon who makes us do it. I believe the force fueling evolution and breath and everything around us, is . . . our souls. The desire to be alive, to experience each other and the world around us. I believe our molecules have collected as intricately as they have to give us consciousness, because they were driven by our consciousness to do it. As our environment changes, our molecules will find new ways to persevere, to thrive, until this world is used up and we return to the stardust we came from: drifting with a purpose, to collect in a new world where we can thrive again.


Now, does this mean that I believe that the premise of Old Souls could be real, and that there are three hundred beings here on earth who can remember each and every one of their past lives, and have fought among themselves to control mankind for the last ten-thousand years?

quotescover-JPG-58Not really. But, it has been pretty fun to think about. That’s why I love being a writer. I have been able to let my imagination run wild. My book is made up of tangents, really. It is the result of slipping into a dream-like world where conspiracy theories, plots of world domination, immortality, and the schizophrenic delusions of a madman are real.

I haven’t decided whether or not I believe in reincarnation, exactly. I feel like if we do incarnate over and over, the experiences we gather in each lifetime and the genetic makeup of our bodies–our hormones and our brains–would fundamentally change how we operate from one life to the next.

aBut, my youngest little hellion said something once that really made me stop and think. It’s amazing what children can say sometimes, in their syrupy sweet, innocent voice. It happened last year at bath time. Nonchalantly, he skimmed a Spiderman boat over the surface of bubbly water.


Mommy, when we all die and come back to life again, I still want to be your Rylie.”


 

So, do YOU believe in reincarnation?

“Old Souls” Inspiration

Practicing our walk down the aisle . . .

Practicing our walk down the aisle . . .

For the most part, I was raised by my dad. He was (and still is) one of those rare men who could do it all. He worked a great job, fed us, tidied the house, and even took us to church . . . a LOT. While our family was far from perfect, I will never forget the feeling of laying my head on his chest and listening to the deep rumbling of his voice as he read to me almost every single night. It’s probably why I love reading so much to this day, and why that spark–that love of reading–was able to evolve into my new found love of writing.

That said, my writer’s fire didn’t really ignite until shortly after the arrival of my first little hellion. Four days before his due date, my doctor decided to induce labor. After a month of weekly ultrasounds to measure his slowing growth rate and the waning supply of amniotic fluid in my womb, she concluded my little guy would be better off out than in.

His delivery was scary.

The nurses fitted my stomach with monitors which recorded his little heart for signs of trouble. Because of the limited supply of amniotic fluid, my contractions contracted him, and his little heart wavered back and forth between beating in a tangent to hardly beating at all.

After hours of labor I was rushed to an operating room. My husband was given a gown and mask, most likely to protect me the horrified look on his face. Despite all our worries, the myriad of doctors and nurses surrounding me managed to save my baby and delivered him into the world, face up, with the help of a vacuum. They discovered his umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck. Every one of my contractions had not only compressed his fragile six pound body, but also cut off his oxygen supply.

My little guy was a fighter

My little guy was a fighter

I’ll never forget the intelligence behind my little hellion’s expression when the nurses laid him on my chest. He was born with a head of white-blonde hair, grey eyes, and a layer of soft wrinkled skin just waiting to be inflated with a perfect layer of baby fat. He stared into my eyes not only as if he as if he knew me, but as if he knew everything.

Other people noticed his keen awareness, too. When we brought him home from the hospital, the comments were all the same. “He is such an old soul.”

And one day, a story began to whisper in my ear. Because, what do we really know about souls and where our consciousness comes from? What if he really was an “old soul,” on one of his many passes through life? Could he have had other mothers? A past love? Would they meet again in this life? And, what if there were people looking for him? People who needed him? People who lost him when he died a thousand years before, and who never gave up hope they’d run into him again?

Gradually, Jaxon grew into the boy he is today–a happy little string bean who loves riding his bike, bugging his brothers, and *gasp* talking to girls on the phone. But the story he planted in my mind has taken on a life of his own.


Lucien Navarro spent years trying to ignore the dreams and delusions that led to the death of his only childhood friend. swingsBut, when a woman claiming to know him from a life ten-thousand years before asks him to return to their great family, he abandons his medication to discover the truth.

His soul is immortal.

Once the leader of three hundred beings who incarnate over and over throughout the ages, Lucien must unite his kind again to rise up against the cult set on their destruction, take a stand in a war which has raged behind the veil of human awareness for millennia, and fight for a love that transcends the boundaries of time.


This story is why I am attempting to teach myself to write. It’s why I wake up early and go to bed late. It’s why I contribute my every spare moment to my writer’s group, building my author’s platform, and opening myself up to criticism. This story fuels my fire. I read because my dad raised me to read. I write because my son gave me a story.